At the Aug. 10 meeting of the Spencer Town Board, discussion focused on cannabis and whether the town should allow a retail business to establish a dispensary or a consumption area only or just opt out altogether.
There is still no detailed information from the state on what it means to have a cannabis business come into town. The board members vary in their opinions, from significantly opposed to not opposed to wanting more information. Spencer Town Councilman Michael Roy said he had spoken with over 100 citizens about the cannabis question, and they are overwhelmingly against a cannabis business in this town.
Whatever the board eventually decides, it will have to pass a local law preceded by a public hearing. Spencer Town Supervisor Al Fulkerson said he would ask the town attorney what he recommends and draw up a proposed local law for the board to consider at the next meeting. If whatever the board adopt requires a permissive referendum from the citizens, Fulkerson said that could be held in January, as there is no deadline for it.
If the board opts out now but changes its mind later, it can opt in but may not opt out again. The question of a retail cannabis business in Spencer was tabled until the September meeting.
The town’s COVID-19 money came in at about $113,000. There are only a few things that Spencer can spend it on. One of these is expanded broadband service. Fulkerson has spoken with Lee Haefele, the local broadband internet provider, and Haefele told him only a very few roads in Spencer do not have broadband. These include Lang Road, Rt. 34-96 north of the village, and Hillview Road. Ferguson said that he will ask Haefele to submit a proposal for them to consider at the next meeting.
Fulkerson updated the board on where the town is on the issue of the qualified abandonment of a Spencer road. The board has been waiting months to hear from the county, which must act on it, as the town can not act on it unilaterally. It still has not heard from the county, and Fulkerson said it has just had no help at all on proceeding with this qualified abandonment. The current plan is for the town trucks to haul up a few loads of gravel, and the landowner said that he will do the work to keep the road passable.
Fulkerson also said that he asked the Association of Towns to sponsor a new law that would benefit towns by giving them control over their roads. This would eliminate the problem that Spencer has now when it is unable to get any response or any action from the county to do a qualified abandonment.
Fulkerson asked the board its opinion on installing several electric outlets as charging stations for the electrical vehicles that will soon be increasing in our area. When asked who would pay the electric bill for these outlets, Fulkerson said, “Well, the taxpayers.”
This raised from the councilmen a chorus of protests, because they are not interested in having the taxpayers pay for the electricity for anybody else. They were not against the idea if it would be like a gas station where each time someone plugs their vehicle in they paid with their own money for the electricity used. They agreed that it was not a bad idea but they needed more information, and they definitely did not like the idea of local taxpayers having to foot the bill.
Fulkerson told the board that the new software they have does allow for ACH direct deposits. When asked if citizens would be able to now use a credit card to pay their taxes, dog licenses or other fees, Fulkerson said yes but there would be a three percent charge to the user of the card. He added that he found most people do not want to pay the extra charge, so that is why they have not enabled that particular feature of the software.
After this relatively brief meeting the board voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel. The next meeting of the town board will be on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. in the town hall.